Japan is a country with four seasons. Autumn is colorful, winter (depending on the region) is snowy and cold, spring is where the cherry trees blossom, and summer is hot. Hot and humid. One more than the other.
The temperature goes well into the 30℃, and the humidity at its worst can get as high as 80%. That is double the humidity that is considered normal.
Even for people who like hot weather, experiencing a Japanese summer for the first time will likely come as a surprise if not shock.
Here are a few tips to make enjoying the (comparably) extreme weather easier.
Wearing less seems obvious, but is not always an option. For example, when there is a dress code at work, or when visiting somewhere formal.
Also, exposing skin to the sun for extended periods can be harmful.
For work in Japan, It is a good idea to get one of the many ‘Summer suits’ that are on offer or at least a dress shirt designed for summer. Even though the fabrics might not look or feel as good, it is still better than looking soaked or having sweat stains.
Buying one or two extra sets of work clothes might even end up being more cost-effective, compared to taking the same set(s) to the cleaners.
Most big-budget brands (e.g. Uniqlo) offer summer variants. If you are going to go for something more up the range, look for linen and cotton as fabrics. If you are going to have one made, the tailor will know what to do.
Keep in mind that some places are considered formal and exposing too much skin is inappropriate (temples, some restaurants). Never go shirtless.
Make a habit of carrying a pocket towel to wipe off the sweat before taking a train or going somewhere else crowded.
There are various products designed especially for the Japanese summers. Like waterproof makeups. Most of the brands will be Japanese, and getting instruction on the type in English online can be difficult. It is best to go to one of the biggest department stores. They usually have shop assistants who can advise on cosmetics in English, Chinese and Korean.
Use the air conditioning. If you don’t feel like cooling the room temperature, you can use the de-humidifier (除湿 ‘joshitsu’). It is usually the un-colored button between the heater and cooler.
Another useful function most air conditioning units have is 送風 ‘soufu’. It spins the fans inside the unit so it will dry and not grow mold.
After showering always use the bathroom fan. Even if it is loud and it annoys you, learn to deal with it or accept that your bathroom will be full of mold by the end of the summer.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that showering with cold water makes cleaning the bathroom less of a chore. And the time it takes the fan to work its magic shorter.
If you don’t have a balcony, nor a dryer function on your washing machine you might want to go to the laundry shop to dry bigger harder to dry items. Alternatively, if you have a space, hang the laundries in front of the air conditioning unit.
Drink enough water. Seems obvious, but drinking water when you are already thirsty is a little late. Instead, drink throughout the day. How much you need depends on the body type, diet, gender and amongst many other things, how much exercise you take. Ideally, consult your doctor or a proper nutritionist. Alternatively, search for ‘Water Intake Calculator’ on the Internet and use it as a loose reference.
Be mindful of diuretics (substances that cause urination) like coffee, alcohol and (oddly enough) parsley.
Sweating causes the loss of electrolytes. Electrolytes are particles that carry negative and positive charges.
In anatomy, they quite literary give you that unique spark that makes you, YOU. Put simply electrolytes make nerves and muscles work.
These are the minerals that make electrolytes humans need to function (they are made by dissolving in the fluids inside your body).
Sodium: Get it from table salt pickled foods and cheese
Potassium: Bananas, sweet potatoes and avocados
Chloride: Table salt
Calcium: Dairy products, tofu, sardines
Phosphate: Meat, eggs
Bicarbonate: Your body makes it
Japanese summers are humid and hot. But also very enjoyable and something every expat living in Japan should experience at last once. These simple ideas should help to get the most of your summer while staying healthy.
Freelance writer and coding enthusiast.
Also a keen sportsman and painter.
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